Award-winning jazz trombonist, composer, and former Berklee professor Hal Crook ’71 has been playing music for more than 60 years. He took up the piano at 5 years old, started composing original pieces at 8, and moved on to trombone at 12. He attended Berklee on a scholarship from DownBeat magazine and received a Bachelor of Music in arranging and composition.
As Crook came into his own as a musician, he also became a highly regarded and sought-after jazz educator, teaching and designing curriculum at the Rhode Island School of Music and at Berklee, and teaching at the University of Rhode Island and the University of California in both Los Angeles and San Diego. He cofounded the Rhode Island School of Performing Music with drummer Artie Cabral in 1976 and founded the San Diego School of Performing Music in 1982. At Berklee, he taught in the Ensemble Department from 1986 until 2016 and had the opportunity to positively influence multiple students including Grammy winners such as Esperanza Spalding ‘05 and Antonio Sanchez ‘97. Crook has also been a visiting artist and teacher at seminars and clinics worldwide and at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and the Dave Brubeck Institute. His optimistic worldview and sense of humor have stood him well as a teacher and a performer.
Crook has performed on more than 40 albums, composed and arranged hundreds of pieces, and written four seminal textbooks on jazz improvisation. He currently plays with his R&B ensemble, Behind These Eyes.